Dear Agent Manners:
I’ve heard about writers receiving multiple offers of representation. After asking these authors how this happened, most say that, after receiving one offer, they then informed the other agents considering their manuscript, hoping to get more offers of representation from them. Do agents expect this to happen when they make an offer? Is it considered rude or tacky? Is there a certain way writers should go about informing the other agents of the first offer?
Any advice is much appreciated.
Curious in Kentucky
Should you find yourself in this enviable position, Agent Manners recommends contacting each agent at once and informing them you have received an offer of representation. It is not necessary to let anyone know who has offered, though you may choose to do so. It is polite to offer a small window of time for responses (if you can include a weekend, by all means do so – it will likely get your work a more thorough reading). However, do keep in mind that the object here is not to play the agents off each other but to find the best match for yourself as author. If you are polite and professional, few agents should be able to find fault with your behavior in this situation. (It may help to remember that many agents are acquainted with each other, some of them even well-acquainted.)
Having experienced this very situation as both the offering agent and also on the other side, Agent Manners emphasizes that if you are submitting simultaneously you make that most clear at the time of the initial submission. What agents tend to find most frustrating is the blindsiding effect, particularly if they have already invested time in a writer. Again, it is not necessary to send details. A simple one-sentence indication that your work is on multiple submission should suffice.
Any other questions on this topic?